By Ron Dale

An eye-witness account of the day Anne Boleyn was made Marchioness of Pembroke and owner and overlord of the manor of Stanstead Abbotts - at least for a while...

1 Sept. 1532 Sunday. ‘The lady was conveyed by noblemen and the Officers of Arms at Windsor Castle to the King who was accompanied by the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk and other noblemen and the ambassador of France.   Mr.Garter bore her patent of creation, and Lady Mary, daughter of the Duke of Norfolk, her mantle of crimson velvet, furred with ermines, and a coronet.  The Lady Marquess who was “in her hair,” ......was led by Elizabeth, Countess of Rutland and Dorothy, Countess of Sussex. While she kneeled before the King, Garter declared her patent which was read by the Bishop of Winchester and the King invested her with the mantle and coronet and gave her two patents – one of her creation and one of £1,000 a year. She thanked the King and retired to her chamber.’

    The sum of her lands given with this creation – Corry Mallett (Somerset), Hunesdon, Eastwyk in Hertfordshire, lands which were late of Philip Paris, Hunesdon, the manors of Stansted (sic), Roydon, Fylollyshal (?Don’t ask!) and Cockeshal and Weston-next-Baldoke, total value £1,023.

(See: Institute of Historical Records, Letters, Papers, Henry VIII, vol.5, 1531/2, no. 1274, pp 552-571, ed. James Gaidner, 1885).

    Approaching the Dissolution, on being handed back these manors from the abbot of Waltham in 1531 Henry VIII donated them to Philip Paris, one of his favourites, at a peppercorn rent.

Queen Anne Boleyn in 1534 – ‘A Queen in Heaven.’

    After such a day, a pre-wedding present from Henry, Anne must have been thrilled, and with the prospect of a forthcoming marriage, her own income, and the crown of the Queen of England, she must have been glowing with anticipation and joy and on 25th January 1533 she actually donned this crown. Just over three years later Anne was once more at a public ceremony, once again kneeling, the central figure on a newly erected scaffold in the Tower precincts, just north of the White Tower. This day of her execution was 19th May, 1536 and she was granted two merciful acts before her death in deference to her position as Queen. Her death sentence of burning alive had been commuted to that of beheading. Secondly she was spared the axe* as a merciful act and was executed by a skilled imported French swordsman. Anne knelt upright for her death in the French style of the day. Her ladies-in-waiting and several of the lords in attendance were weeping.  In her final speech Anne swore on oath several times that she had never been unfaithful to the king, but still managed to praise Henry as a “gentle and sovereign lord” and asked that God show compassion to her accusers. This shows what an exceptional woman she was, for who could forgive anyone an act of execution. Her sole ally throughout her trial had been Thomas Cranmer and at Lambeth Palace on the fatal day, he wept uncontrollably, finally commenting that, “She who has been Queen of England on Earth, today became Queen in Heaven.” Her exact date of birth has never been confirmed, but she is believed to have been no older than 35.

A sad end for anyone, but this was a brutal time in which to live and to die, especially near this monarch.

*Sometimes several blows were required with the axe before severance.

Ron Dale, April, 2017